Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales

Francis MacNamara - A convict's tour to hell
C 967

[Newspaper fragment]

A Convict's tour to hell
Composed at Stroud A.A. Co. Establishment Station
New South Wales.
Nor can the foremost of the sons of men
Escape my ribald and licentious pen.
Composed and written October 23rd day, Anno 1839

You prisoners of New South Wales,
Who frequent watchhouses and gaols
A story to you I will tell
Tis of a convict's tour to hell.
Whose valour had for years been tried
On the highway before he died
At length he fell to death a prey
To him it proved a happy day
Downwards he bent his course I'm told
Like one destined for Satan's fold
And no refreshment would he take
"Till he approached the Stygian lake
A tent he then began to fix
Contiguous to the River Styx
Thinking that no one could molest him
He leaped when Charon thus addressed him
Stranger I say from whence art thou,
And thy own name, pray tell me now,
Kind sir I come from Sydney gaol
My name I don't mean to conceal
And since you seem anxious to know it
On earth I was called Frank the Poet.

[Page 3]

[Are you that person? Charon cried],[Paper torn]
I'll carry you to the other side.
Five or sixpence I mostly charge
For the like passage in my barge
So stranger do not troubled be
For you shall have a passage free
Frank seeing no other succour nigh
With the invitation did comply
And having a fair wind and tide
They soon arrived at the other side
And leaving Charon at the ferry
Frank went in haste to Purgatory
And rapping loudly at the gate
Of Limbo, or the Middle State
Pope Pius the 7th soon appeared
With gown, beads, crucifix and beard
And gazing at the Poet the while
Accosts him in the following style
Stranger art thou a friend or foe
Your business here I fain would know
Quoth the Poet for Heaven I'm not fitted
And here I hope to be admitted
Pius rejoined, vain are your hopes
This place was made for Priests and Popes
Tis a world of our own invention
But friend I've not the least intention
To admit such a foolish elf
Who scarce knows how to bless himself
Quoth Frank were you mad or insane
When first you made this world of pain?

For I can see nought but fire
A share of which I can't desire
Here I see weeping wailing gnashing
And torments of the newest fashion
Therefore I call you silly elf
Who made a rod to whip yourself
And may you like all honest neighbours
Enjoy the fruit of all your labours
Frank then bid the Pope farewell
And hurried to that place called Hell
And having found the gloomy gate
Frank rapped aloud to know his fate
He louder knocked and louder still
When the Devil came, pray what's your will?
Alas cried the Poet I've come to dwell
With you and share your fate in Hell
Says Satan that can't be, I'm sure
For I detest and hate the poor
And none shall in my kingdom stand
Except the grandees of the land.
But Frank I think you are going astray
For convicts never come this way
But soar to Heaven in droves and legions
A place so called in the upper regions
So Frank I think with an empty purse
You shall go further and fare worse
Well cried the Poet since 'tis so
One thing of you I'd like to know
As I'm at present in no hurry
Have you one here called Captain Murray?

[Page 4]

Yes Murray is within this place
Would you said Satan see his face?
May God forbid that I should view him
For on board the Phoenix Hulk I knew him
Who is that Sir in yonder blaze
Who on fire and brimstone seems to graze?
'Tis Captain Logan of Moreton Bay
And Williams who was killed the other day
He was overseer at Grosse Farm
And done poor convicts no little harm
Cook who discovered New South Wales
And he that first invented gaols
Are both tied to a fiery stake
Which stands in yonder boiling lake
Hark do you hear this dreadful yelling
It issues from Doctor Warden's dwelling
And all those fiery seats and chairs
Are fitted up for Dukes and Mayors
And nobles of Judicial orders
Barristers Lawyers and Recorders
Here I beheld legions of traitors
Hangmen gaolers and flagellators
Commandants, Constables and Spies
Informers and Overseers likewise
In flames of brimstone they were toiling
And lakes of sulphur round them boiling
Hell did resound with their fierce yelling
Alas how dismal was their dwelling

Then Major Morriset I espied
And Captain Cluney by his side
With a fiery belt they were lashed together
As tight as soles to upper leather
Their situation was most horrid
For they were tyrants down at the Norrid
Prostrate I beheld a petitioner
It was the Company's Commissioner
Satan said he my days are ended
For many years I've superintended
The An. Company's affairs
And I punctually paid all arrears
Sir should you doubt the hopping Colonel
At Carrington you'll find my journal
Legibly penned in black and white
To prove that my accounts were right
And since I've done your will on earth
I hope you'll put me in a berth
Then I saw old Serjeant Flood
In Vulcan's hottest forge he stood
He gazed at me his eyes with ire
Appeared like burning coals of fire
In fiery garments he was arrayed
And like an Arabian horse he brayed
He on a bloody cutlass leaned
And to a lamp-post he was chained
He loudly called out for assistance
Or begged me to end his existence
Cheer up said I be not afraid
Remember No. Three Stockade

[Page 5]

In the course of time you may do well
If you behave yourself in Hell
Your heart on earth was fraught with malice
Which oft drove convicts to the gallows
But you'll now atone for all the blood
Of prisoners shed by Serjeant Flood.
Then I beheld that well known Trapman
The Police Runner called Izzy Chapman
Here he was standing on his head
In a river of melted boiling lead.
Alas he cried behold me stranger
I've captured many a bold bushranger
And for the same I'm suffering here
But lo, now yonder snakes draw near
On turning round I saw slow worms
And snakes of various kinds and forms
All entering at his mouth and nose
To devour his entrails as I suppose
Then turning round to go away
Bold Lucifer bade me to stay
Saying Frank by no means go man
Till you see your old friend Dr. Bowman
Yonder he tumbles groans and gnashes
He gave you many a thousand lashes
And for the same he does bewail
For Osker with an iron flail
Thrashes him well you may depend
And will till the world comes to an end

Just as I spoke a coach and four
Came in full post haste to the door
And about six feet of mortal sin
Without leave or licence trudged in
At his arrival three cheers were given
Which rent I'm sure the highest Heaven
And all the inhabitants of Hell
With one consent rang the great bell
Which never was heard to sound or ring
Since Judas sold our Heavenly King
Drums were beating flags were hoisting
There never before was such rejoicing
Dancing singing joy or mirth
In Heaven above or on the earth
Straightway to Lucifer I went
To know what these rejoicings meant
Of sense cried Lucifer I'm deprived
Since Governor Darling has arrived
With fire and brimstone I've ordained him
And Vulcan has already chained him
And I'm going to fix an abode
For Captain Rossi, he's on the road
Frank don't go till you see the novice
The magistrate from the Police Office
Oh said the Poet I'm satisfied
To hear that he is to be tied
And burned in this world of fire

[Page 6]

I think 'tis high time to retire
And having travelled many days
O'er fiery hills and boiling seas
At length I found that happy place
Where all the woes of mortals cease
And rapping loudly at the wicket
Cried Peter, where's your certificate
Or if you have not one to show
Pray who in Heaven do you know?
Well I know Brave Donohue
Young Troy and Jenkins too
And many others whom floggers mangled
And lastly were by Jack Ketch strangled
Peter, says Jesus, let Frank In
For he is thoroughly purged from sin
And although in convict's habit dressed
Here he shall be a welcome guest.
Isiah go with him to Job
And put on him a scarlet robe
St Paul go to the flock straightway
And kill the fatted calf today
And go tell Abraham and Abel
In haste now to prepare the table
For we shall have a grand repast
Since Frank the Poet has come at last
Then came Moses and Elias
John the Baptist and Mathias
With many saints from foreign lands
And with the Poet they all join hands
Thro" Heaven's Concave (sic) their rejoicings rang
And hymns of praise to God they sang
And as they praised his glorious name
I woke and found 'twas but a dream.

A Petition from the chain gang at Newcastle to Captain Furlong
the Superintendant praying him to dismiss a scourger named Duffy
from the cookhouse and appoint a man in his room.

Francis MacNamara.

With reverence and submission due,
Kind sir those words are sent to you,
And with them a good wish too,
Long may you reign,
And like Wellington at Waterloo
Fresh laurels gain.
Your petitioners are under thy care,
In mercy therefore hear our prayer,
Nor let us wallow in despair,
But soothe each pang,
But allow no flogger to prepare
Food for your gang.

[Page 7]

'Tis said that by your ordination
Our late cook lost his situation,
And Duffy is in nomination
His berth to fill;
But has not got our approbation,
Nor never wi11.
Your judgement Sire, put to good use,
Nor burthen us with foul abuse,
Full long we've drunk the dregs and juice
Of black despair,
Yet we can find another screw loose
Or two somewhere.
Our jaws now daily will grow thinner,
And stomachs weak, as I'm a sinner,
For Duffy is a human skinner,
Most barbarous wretch.
Each day I'd rather have my dinner
Cooked by Jack Ketch.

It matters not whether salt or fresh,
Even his touch would spoil each dish.
His cooking we never can relish-
We'd rather starve.
For be assured tis human flesh
He best can carve.
To any rational being I appeal,
Whether he's fit to cook a meal
For a vile caterpillar or snail,
Or a beast of prey.
Men he has scoured in every gaol
In Botany Bay.
I know the damned devils when they sit
To dine, will long for a savoury bit.
Now Duffy's just the person fit
To boil their kettles,
To send him to the Bottomless Pit
To cook their victuals.

[Page 8]

But did he even touch our -meat,
A furnace our coppers wouldn't heat,
And every knife, fork, spoon and plate
Would cry out Shame,
And in the midst of our debate
Would curse thy name.
Or if Saints Matthew, Mark, John and Luke,
With Moses who wrote the Pentateuch
Consented to make this flogger our cook.
I ' d say 'tis foul;
If I wouldn't swear it on the Book,
Hell seize my soul.
Now sir, your petitioners great and small
On bended knees before you fall;
Nor let us in vain for redress call,
Drive Duffy away,
And as in duty bound we all
Will ever pray.
'Tis needless to say the prayer was granted.

(For the Company underground) Francis MacNamara of Newcastle to J Crosdale Esq. greeting.

When Christ from Heaven comes down straightway,
All His Father's laws to expound,
MacNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.
When the man in the moon to Moreton Bay
Is sent in shackles bound,
MacNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.
When the Cape of Good Hope to Twofold Bay
Comes for the change of a pound,
MacNamara shall work that day
For the Company underground.
When cows in lieu of milk yield tea,
And all lost treasures are found,
MacNamara shall work that day
For The Company underground.

[Page 9]

When the Australian Co.'s heaviest dray
Is drawn 80 miles by a hound,
MacNamara shall work that day
For The Company underground.
When a frog, a caterpillar and a flea
Shall travel the globe all round,
MacNamara shall work that day
For The Company underground.
When turkeycocks on Jews harps play
And mountains dance at the sound,
MacNamara shall work that day
For The Company underground.

When milestones go to church to pray
And whales are put in the Pound,
MacNamara shall work that day
For The Company underground.

When Christmas falls on the 1st of May
And O'Connell's King of England crown'd,
MacNamara shall work that day
For The Company underground.
When thieves ever robbing on the highway
For their sanctity are renowned,
MacNamara shall work that day
For The Company underground.
When the quick and the dead shall stand in array
Cited at the trumpet's sound,
Even then, damn me if I'd work a day
For the Company underground.
Nor over ground.

[Page 10]

A Petition from the A.A.Co. flocks at Peels River in behalf of the Irish Bard

By permission of the great Esquire Hall
Being assembled here this day
Unanimously bleating all
For Him that's far away.

Our noble sires in the rich vales
Of Germany long sported
But we alas to New South Wales
By the Company were imported.
We were bourne (sic) across the Main
From Holland and from Russia
Some from Saxony, more from Spain
France, Switzerland and Prussia.

We, the prime of the Company's stock
Fat wethers, rams and ewes
None excepted, all the flock
Peel for the Poet's woes.
Oft he has charmed with his notes
The Plains of fair Killala
To him we owe our fleecy coats
Our flesh, our hides, our tallow.
He ever proved our constant friend
'Tis plain from our contrition
In his behalf therefore we send
The following petition.

[Page 11]

For years on the Poet's lawn we've grazed
And leaped o'er many a hurdle
To you our voices all are raised
Most noble Ebsworth of Burrell.
To honour thee we never cease
With reverence most profound
How much more Sire, when you release
The Poet from underground.

Each morning when the watchful cock
Announced the approach of day
At the folds he was seen with his flock
Before Sol's glittering ray.

The lofty wood crowned hills adorned
Were seen on the Plains
The truant like negligence he scorned
Of all the neighbouring swains.
By the fair Peel's evergreen side
We feasted every day
Our wants there amply were supplied
Whilst our Bard's merry lay
Joined with the notes of the sweet thrush
With melody filled the air
Birds to him flocked from every bush
So sweet his carols were.

[Page 12]

Our tender lambs with him would play
And in his bosom lie
To Hawks they's often fall a prey
But for his watchful eye.
He reared them with a father's care
And fed the sickly ewes
Whilst other shepherds gambling were
On cards and dominoes.
Our wily foes, the native dogs
He chased for many a mile
Saint Patrick never drove the frogs
So swift from the Western Isle.

The King of Thessaly's numerous flocks
Once Telemacus kept
And from coverts and caverns in the rocks
Bears, lions and tigers crept.
To hear the music of his lute
But our Bard's plaintive songs
Not only charmed the senseless brute
But gathered the birds in throngs.
Far from the Peel's evergreen plains
In some wild lone retreat
In bitter and heartrending strains
We'll mourn our patron's fate.

[Page 13]

Our cries from the hills shall resound
To the extremes of the Poles
If our friend goes underground
At Newcastle to wheel coals.

Why should the poet be sent down
To toil in a coal pitt
Such service best suits a clown
But not a man of wit.

[Page 14]

We yet shall hear his merry songs
On fair Killala's plain Kind
Heaven shall avenge the wrongs
Of our much injured swain.